Inspiration to Print: a Travel Writer’s Guide to Nepal

A nation slowly regaining its lost foothold after the 2015 earthquake, the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal is brimming with stories of all kinds. If you’re a writer / journalist, looking to cover it, Nomad Prathap shares his tips on how to find and write your story.

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For a writer, stumbling upon a great story idea on a trip is nothing short of a delightful happenstance.

It’s perhaps pure serendipity that a writer and a story idea find each other. But such serendipitous encounters also occur very rarely. Most the time a great story comes from months of preparation, research, and creativity.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Keep an eye out for anything that catches your interest and can be transformed into a story.

The lone monk standing on the rubbles of Durbar Square seeking alms, the delicious street food that goes beyond dal bhat, or the growing cafe culture in Kathmandu – all of them are potential story ideas.

Another great way to hunt for ideas is to read local English-language newspapers. These include The Himalayan Times, The Kathmandu Post, as well as magazines like The Nepali Man and Wave.

Avoid the Most Obvious Stories – Find Something New

Earthquake-related stories have been reported by almost every single outlet around the world, so it’s a good idea to look for follow-up stories. There are many and the world is ready to hear it.

Over and above the Everest and climbing-related stories, there are quite a lot of offbeat trekking and adventure travel stories waiting to be told.

Nepal’s national parks host a wealth of flora and fauna (and the rare one-horned rhino) and their conservation success – particularly the Chitwan National park –are worth narrating.

Though mired in issues related to lack of public infrastructure and sanitation, Kathmandu is still a buzzing metropolis. Under its chaotic surface are interesting personalities waiting to be profiled.

Approaching the Subject for an Interview

After you find your idea and decide on your story, approaching your subject while you are still in the country is a good idea.

In general, Nepalis are not shy of talking to a tourist – for years, they’ve seen way too many of them. They wouldn’t mind being photographed either. However, the universal rule of thumb applies – though it’s not always possible, ask whenever you can before pointing your camera at a friendly face in the crowded market.

Most urban Nepalis speak English, but language is always an issue. If you’re asking complex questions or looking for nuanced answers, hire an interpreter.

Tools for the Modern Writer

Your smartphone is a multi-utility journalistic tool that can double up as a camera, recording equipment, and as a note-taking journal, all rolled into one.

However, as splendid as its prowess is, keep in mind that it’s also prone to battery death.

Pack your power bank to save yourself from the embarrassment of your phone dying down midway through an interview.

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